Recently, I survived a horrible ordeal. I went in for knee replacement surgery. Oh sure, I was unconscious, so I didn’t feel a thing. But what made it so traumatic was that the doctor replaced my elbow instead.
When it comes to health matters, I ’m a very private person. I almost never air what’s ailing me – unless I’m talking to an immediate family member, close personal friends, neighbors, second cousins, co-workers, or a stranger lucky enough to be standing next to me in the grocery store checkout.
That’s why it’s challenging for me to share with my readers the details of my most recent medical ordeal. But I’ll try – just this once (and perhaps in parts 2, 3, and 4 of this multi-part essay).
Recently, I underwent knee replacement surgery. My doctor said I was one in a million, which made me feel very proud of my achievement and grateful that I’d beaten the odds – until I realized he meant that easily a million others had endured this procedure this past year as well.
The day of reckoning was inevitable. I had been diagnosed with “bone-on-bone” advanced osteo arthritis in both knees eons ago. I’d long since accepted the harsh reality that the Olympics were not in my future – mostly due to my deteriorating knees (and perhaps in part because coaches said I lacked the requisite speed, strength, endurance, and talent). Rationalizing that it made economic sense to postpone this surgery until I reached Medicare age, I have earned martyrdom for pounding the pavement many years beyond the expiration date of my knees. This past January I turned 65. Time to face the music. Thanks to Medicare, the whole procedure cost me only slightly more than a KFC Family Meal.
The doctor broke the news that the odds of a full recovery were barely 999 out of a thousand. But I decided to laugh in the face of the Grim Reaper and boldly go where no man has gone before. “Let’s do it, Doc!” We’ll skip the pre-game show (checking in, changing into a backless gown, propositioning the doctor as the anesthesia took hold) and go to the actual slicing and dicing. I won’t lie. The experience was brutal. I now can relate to those brave Civil War soldiers who, in the heat of battle and bleeding profusely, were carried on stretchers, barely reaching the medical tent and a medic wielding a rusty saw, with nothing to dull their searing pain but a shot of whiskey and a stick to bite on.
My experience was eerily similar – except for the fact I had no gushing blood, was unconscious the entire time of the surgery, and when I woke up, I was lying in a comfy adjustable bed in a sterile hospital with a stunning view of the Olympic Mountains, and was offered all the ice cream I could scarf down. That being said, not one of the four nurses waiting on me hand and foot offered me a shot of whiskey. (I may file a complaint.) So, I had to gut it out the hard way – with morphine.
As I came to from the anesthesia, there was a bright light glowing all around me. I sadly mused that I was not among the 999 – that the brilliant rays of Heaven were beckoning. But why was this angel wearing a white uniform and stethoscope? It turns out that the bright light was not the rays of Heaven welcoming me home but a nurse opening up the curtains in my earthly recovery room. It was incredibly sunny out.
People have kindly asked how I’ve been feeling in the days and weeks post-op. If I had to summarize it in one word (without using a thesaurus), I’d say: “OOOOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!” – followed by a flurry of expletives that my editor censored, in case kids are reading this.
I’m home now, recovering. I’m determined to tough it out – in quiet desperation, all alone in my man cave, since my wife abandoned me after only 12 hours of my whining. Frankly, I would rather not dwell on the devastating pain I’ve withstood hour after hour, minute after minute… but if you insist, here goes…
Every day throughout this never-ending saga (it’s been three whole weeks) I go through the same torturous routine: it starts with encasing my knee in an ice wrap, then lying in the recliner, elevating my knee, and reaching for the remote. I am trapped in a living hell every second of every day, with nothing to do but watch movies on Amazon Prime (or Netflix or Hulu or HBO), pat a kitty, or stare at the incredible scenery outside my window, with a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream – or an occasional slice of pizza. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll be okay – even though I’ve already powered through Season 3 of Mrs. Maisel, and Season 4 doesn’t come out for another 9 months.
Here I am back home, recuperating on the couch, with my walker, ice machine and thigh-length compression socks. Feelin’ sexy. Growwwl.
For a full month after surgery, I’m not allowed to drive – partly due to the powerful meds and also because my doctor said I’m a terrible driver. And because my right knee currently has the strength of a hamster – who has just had knee replacement surgery. Despite my misery – or perhaps because of it – my wife and I are much closer, often right next to each other in the car, as she drives me from my doctor’s appointment to PT to Burger King and anywhere else I fancy.
I try to show my appreciation by calling her “Sweetie” at least forty times a day, as in “Sweetie, can you get me another slice of cake?” or “Sweetie, can you pick up my phone? It’s fallen and it can’t get up.”
Any time I ring the bell, she’s right there at my side. Whenever I start to feel a tad guilty that perhaps I’m imposing on my kind-hearted wife, I remind myself, “Hey, I’m the one confined to the recliner” and then I ring the bell again, because I’m in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich – and she obviously loves cooking for me, as evidenced by the fry pan always in her hand when she appears.
While it’s been arduous, I won’t let it break me. Just last night, in my darkest moment (stuck in the closest with my walker, unable to locate the light switch) I looked deep within my soul and said to myself – and to anybody checking my hourly Facebook updates – that as God as my witness, someday – I don’t know when – I WILL drive a golf cart again!
That’s the view from my recliner. Perhaps I’m off base.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020
Over the years, many people have questioned my intelligence, most notably several past bosses. You need look no further for damning evidence to back up this charge than Exhibit A: I once ran a marathon. And not as a court-ordered punishment for littering. No, I did it voluntarily.
If you’ve never run a marathon and you happen to be someone I strongly dislike, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a great way to waste four to fourteen perfectly good hours punishing your body and shattering your emotional well-being. During this endurance contest, as your will to live slowly disintegrates, you may catch yourself asking soul-searching questions like “Would anybody really notice if I cut off a few miles by taking the subway?”
A marathon is an absurdly long distance to travel without a car – 26 miles and 385 yards, to be exact. To put this into proper perspective, that’s twice the length of the island of Manhattan. It’s wider than the English Channel. And it’s 26 miles longer than I ever plan to travel on foot any time between now and when I die.
I did some research and found that the word “Marathon” comes from the Greek mara meaning “sea” and thonus meaning “lacking in thought”, or, roughly translated “a sea of idiots. This makes complete sense when you realize that every year, tens of thousands of otherwise sane people pay good money for the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering on their bodies over 26 miles of concrete.
I ran my first (and last) marathon on Sunday, November 4, 1990. It was the granddaddy of them all: the New York Marathon, which winds through all five boroughs of the Big Apple. I was one of an elite few selected to participate. They shut the door after 25,000 registrants.
Continue reading “The Time I Tortured Myself for No Good Reason” »
I recently turned 45. Even more recently, I turned 62. This old body is starting to show signs of wear and tear. I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure it’s way out of warranty. When I was a teenager, I thought anyone in their sixties was ancient. But now that I’m one of those people, I realize that as a naive 17-year-old, I was … 100% correct. If you’re one of those youthful people still in your teens, twenties, thirties or even forties, don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve discovered many advantages to getting old.
For example, at my age, I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think of my appearance. It’s so liberating. Sure, my body will never regain the six-pack abs I never had in my youth. And yes, my waistline is not quite as svelte as it once wasn’t. That’s okay. That’s the great thing about getting to this point in life: you can look back and finally accept that most of your hopes and dreams have passed you by. Nobody expects you to do any great new thing in your next chapter – because there is no next chapter. So, you can kick back and read the latest John Grisham novel – on the couch – in your boxers – scarfing down peanut butter from the jar.
I’ll admit that I don’t have quite as much hair as I used to. But, full disclosure, I still have way more than my three brothers. Trust me, by comparison to them, I look like a member of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. Besides, now I’m finding hair in exciting new places, like my ears, my nostrils and the knuckles of my left hand. (But not my right hand, for some reason. Should I be worried about that?)
Another benefit of aging is that I no longer worry about all the embarrassing things I did the previous day – because I usually can’t remember doing them. My recall skills have declined a bit in recent years. For example, last weekend, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of that gifted group who sang Let It Be and Hey Jude. Then hours later, BAM, it hit me: Of course! The Grateful Dead.
Continue reading “The Upside of Getting Old” »
I’m 61 years old. You can’t fool me with platitudes like “60 is the new 45.” Let’s face it. The man in the mirror is looking very rough around the edges – and frankly, he’s looking pretty rough everywhere inside the edges, too.
In recent years, I’ve become increasingly aware that my body is starting to falter. Nowadays my knees creak melodiously. When I get out of a chair, I have to think about how much thrust will be needed to propel me to a vertical posture. I’m losing my hair where I want it and gaining it in places I don’t. And my eyebrows grow in every direction but straight. When did that start happening?
In a series of futile efforts to stave off getting old, I’ve employed a variety of desperate measures. I can’t recall how many times I’ve tried dieting – mainly because my memory isn’t that good anymore. Every diet I try seems to end at the bottom of a guilt-ridden bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream at 11 o’clock at night, with me swearing I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I’ve tried working out on the treadmill, swimming and cycling, but these all suffer from a major drawback: they all require effort. I’ve tried herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba to improve my memory, but I always forget whether I took the pills that day or not. I’ve even tried self-proclaimed miracle drugs like Dyzastra. You name it. I’ve tried it. None of them have worked. I still feel like I am aging by the minute.
I have searched for the Fountain of Youth for years with no success – until now. I’m excited to share that I’ve finally found the secret to feeling instantly 20 years younger. And it did not require any expensive cosmetic surgery, painful ab crunches, uncomfortable fat-burning, vibrating belt, or Australian-method Pilates classes. I didn’t have to drink Kale smoothies, which, no matter how many blueberries you add, still taste like, well, Kale smoothies. No hair transplants. No hip replacement. Nothing that my doctor has been nagging me to change about my daily fitness habits for the past fifteen years. No, my solution was far simpler and pain-free.
Continue reading “I Have Discovered the Fountain of Youth” »
It seems every week there is a new study about yet another popular food staple that has been linked to cancer or heart disease. It’s all very confusing. First experts tell you that grape juice is a heart-healthy beverage. Then other experts claim that it’s bad for you (containing as much sugar as soft drinks).
As one of the nation’s leading nutrition experts, I have compiled a comprehensive list of unhealthy foods. Avoid these foods and you should be able to lead a long and healthy life – assuming, of course, you don’t live in Afghanistan, Somalia or Detroit, in which case all bets are off.
FOODS TO AVOID
Cake, cookies, candy and ice cream. When I first discovered that these foods were considered unhealthy, it came as quite a blow. For years I had considered these to be the four basic food groups. But apparently no longer. They are all high in sugar, carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fat. Avoid these at all costs – unless you prefer to be happy.
Continue reading “IMPORTANT HEALTH SAFETY WARNING: THESE FOODS WILL KILL YOU!” »